Monthly Archives: June 2014

The Spider and the Flute: a sleep-deprivation-inspired tale of arachnid tragedy

So I was playing a wooden flute, in my pyjamas, to a 8.5 month old, sat on the floor beside the dog. Both dog and baby looked a bit confused, but no one was crying, not even me, so I counted it as a success.

But the sound wasn’t coming out right, it was all wispy and blowy and strange, so I peeked into the flute. Inside, was a dead spider sat in its web.

Now, like the cats who forgot how to cat, I think this spider forgot how to spider. This spider toodled its way around the bottom of my closet, into the cloth case of my wooden flute, and then into the body of the flute itself. It looked around, saw the cavernous (if you’re a spider) interior space and thought, “hey, good square footage, this is prime real estate.” It set up home, spun its comfy web, and then waited.

No bugs.

Nothing.

So it waited some more.

Still no bugs.

Nothing at all.

It waited for so long that IT DIED waiting for the bugs to come along.

Now, I have a fair few spiders in my house right now, because it’s the time of year I open all my windows and flies come in and so the spiders set up shop and I have an agreement with them that they can stay so long as they do their job and don’t piss me off. I see these spiders spidering, and they know what’s what. One night one of them might be hanging out in one corner of a room, but if that corner isn’t a hot fly hangout spot, it moves to another corner, or another room.

Flute-spider was either too stupid to make this connection between “no bugs here” and “I should move up the property ladder” – or it was just a really big fan of woodwind instruments.

I feel a little sad for stupid flute-spider. In my head I imagine it was always a little bit dense, and the other spiders made fun of it. It was eventually driven to find a quiet home far from the other spiders, somewhere no one would make fun of it. It finds a lovely flute house, and is happy.

“I know this is a bit of a tricky place to get into, but the bugs will come,” the spider says to itself. And it waits, and in the background plays the song All By Myself because the spider is lonely.

Time passes, but the spider thinks, “Maybe today will be the day the bugs will come,” and so it waits some more.

“Tomorrow?”

But no.

“Maybe if I just sit here quietly, and think about bugs, it will be as good as if the bugs did come.” And so the spider thinks very hard about bugs, but it isn’t as good, and the spider dies, alone.

And so I thought about the poor spider, and its tragic little life, as I poked it from the flute with a cotton-tipped ear-cleaning stick, you know the ones, and when I eventually dislodged it into my bathroom sink, and turned on the tap, I sent it down the drain with all the gravity and solemnity of a Viking burial. If I’d been able to set a tiny boat on fire, I would have done.

Goodnight, sweet arachnid prince. The bugs WILL come.

Putting on my Judgey Pants

I was just looking through my computer’s files, and realised that I have fourteen unfinished novels sitting unloved on my hard drive.

Fourteen.

That’s a heck of a lot of shit I never finished.

On one hand it makes me depressed to think that I’ve started so many projects, even if it was just a rough summary or a key chapter, and then abandoned them.  But on the other hand it gives me confidence that at least I keep evolving and creating.  I don’t just have one story to tell.

Isn’t there some stupid saying about how everyone has a novel inside them?  To me that’s like Brian on Family Guy who is constantly writing his “memoirs” to the derision of every other character.  I might be putting on my judgey pants here but people who talk about working on “their novel”, with that particular self-important smugness you get in the educated, middle-class, pre-hipster generation, are by and large doing the written version of public masturbation.  In another decade they would have been writing bad spoken-word poetry, smoking pot, and telling each other, “yeah, man, that’s so deep.”  And in our current generation, it’s the trilogy that’s the new “it” medium for the navel-gazing prose-monkeys.

Seriously, why is everything a bloody trilogy these days?  Can’t anyone enjoy brevity anymore?  One well-rounded storyline not enough?  Because by and large you can practically guarantee that even with the best trilogies around you’ll love the first book, feel meh about the second, and then hate the ending of the third.

So have I told you how I’m writing my novel?  It’s, like, so deep, man.

Fear

Sometimes it takes only a few minutes to write a chapter, sometimes it takes days.  It’s the fear of screwing up, the worry that everything that comes out of my brain and down through my fingertips is actually a load of bollocks, that makes my progress slow to a gastropodian pace.  And sometimes I get in such a bother over it that I feel like maybe it’s better not to commit myself to writing at all, because my mistakes won’t exist if I never make them.

But I just decided, while I was trying to rock my querulous infant back to sleep at 1am, that I don’t care.  Or that I shouldn’t care, at least.

Once I finish this novel (I WILL finish it, dammit), and if I read it over and it isn’t as brilliant as I hoped it would be (it never will be, nothing on paper is ever as good as the thought it starts out as) then I just put it aside and start another.

Failing to write because of fear of bad writing is worse than writing bad writing.  At least writing badly is progress.